The Gland Superman can be found in




ISFDB.org Magazine Entry



The secret of gland control lay in the Para Röntgen rays, of that Harley Gale was certain. Faced with failure, he hit upon a brilliant idea to create a gland champion

By ED EARL REPP

CHAPTER I
Splendid Savage

PROFESSOR GALE led the way onto the thread-like catwalk that arched above the crouching mass of machinery. Close behind him came Perrin, gripping the guard rails tightly as though a little nervous. The four others, members of the Board of Directors, like Perrin, followed gingerly. Step by step they inched their way out over the great electrical monsters, vigilant of their every move, lest they slip and hurtle into eternity on the web of high power wires that formed a veritable net over the dynamos.

Into the middle of the swaying walk they made their way, then stopped. The tall, slightly bowed scientist gestured at the humming machinery.

"You see, I haven't been loafing on the job," he smiled briefly. "This little outlay here represents fifteen months of planning."

His short, white smock hung loosely from his lean shoulders. Professor Harley Gale looked like the shrewd scientist he was, from the top of his intellectual forehead to his perpetually unpolished shoes. His face was that of a scholar, his hands those of the artist, his unpressed clothes those of a man who has more to think of than appearances. His gaunt, intense face reflected the keenness of the mind behind it.

As he watched the heavy-browed, red face of the shorter man, his electric blue eyes were anxious. The effect of all this on Professor Perrin meant much to him.

After a moment in which his yellowish, puffy eyes flicked over the scene below, Perrin said sarcastically, "Very pretty. What does it do—supply the city with power?" His thick, protruding lips smirked unpleasantly. Before Gale could answer, he turned around and said suggestively, "Shall we go back, gentlemen?"

The other four men started mincing their way back across the slender steel arch in response to his words, all of them smiling at his evaluation of Gale's work.

Disappointment was plain in the professor's face as he followed. He was staking everything on this visit from Professor Perrin and his satellites of the Board.

Gale would have given ten years of his life for a private fortune at this stage of his career, but his means were limited indeed. For twenty years he had served as head of the Bio-Chemistry department of the Mellon Institute, drawing a yearly salary of five thousand dollars. Not a paltry sum, but only a drop in the bucket to a man engaged in work as expensive as Gale's.

Here in the laboratory of the Institute his every request for money was bickered over. The practical members of the Board, most of them men who knew so little about science that they thought a retort was a quick reply, could see no farther than the end of their purse-strings. They were, first and last, business men. Had they only possessed the foresight that Gale did, they might have seen the untold benefits that humanity would one day receive from his work.

At the end of the hall Professor Gale threw open the door to the laboratory and showed the five men in.

The white-walled room was nearly forty feet square, with a great, domed ceiling of translucent glass. The whole of the interior was suffused with a gentle, indirect light which filtered through the semi-opaque dome. At the left of the door was a compact battery of great vacuum tubes arranged so that they gave the appearance of the graded pipes of an organ. The smallest of the gleaming tubes was over four feet high, the largest reaching nearly to the ceiling.

STRAIGHT across from the door the entire wall curved outward in a semi-circle. The space thus provided was transformed into a raised stage. The stage was bare except for two large objects. One was a porcelain operating table, and the other, stationed at the end of the table, was a six-feet-tall pyramid of frosted glass. From the top of the pyramid protruded a long, crane-like arm.

Perrin, his fat lips pursed, sized the place up with a jaundiced eye. It was the first time he had visited the laboratory in months, ever since the last application for an appropriation.

"Very impressive," he grunted. "What's this supposed to do—put the Rockefeller Foundation to shame?"

Short, bald, dark-spectacled Doctor Lanton grinned at the Head's humor. The coat encasing his portly body was unbuttoned and his groaning vest, sporting a scalloped effect down the front where his fat stomach pulled open the spaces between buttons seemed about to fly apart.

Behind him cadaverous Henry Gauntt glanced bleakly about the room. His bald head and white face, completely hairless, gleamed like the porcelain operating table, making his blue eyes glitter like chips of glacial ice.

An angry retort surged up within the scientist. With a great effort he forced it down and managed a smile.

"No," he assured them, "it's all necessary—every bit of it. The work I've been doing here could easily use twice as much space and keep ten men busy."

Perrin's coarse features looked dubious at the statement. Then he snapped, "Well, suppose you get down to business, Gale. Just what have you discovered that entitles you to anything over the thousand a month your department is allowed?"

Harley Gale gestured at the row of chairs before the little stage. "If you gentlemen will have seats, I'll show you the work I'm doing. I'm sure you'll realize the tremendous importance of it." Fortunately, they missed the sarcasm behind his words.

As the shaggy-headed Perrin lowered himself into a chair, Professor Gale walked to the stage and went up the four steps to the platform. While the members of the Board took seats, he hurriedly moved a wooden box-and-chute arrangement from off-stage to the end of the operating table, placing the upper end of the chute against the table. It appeared as though whatever subject Gale intended to use on the table could be slid down the chute into the barred cage when he had finished with it.

Now he stepped through a door at the side for a moment and returned carrying a small, black-and-white tom cat. It was a sickly, scrawny specimen of the ordinary back-alley variety. He placed it on the table and turned to his small audience.

Five pairs of eyes glared coldly at him. Nordstrum—blond, blocky-headed efficiency expert—leaned back and tapped his thumb nail against his square front teeth. At the end of the row hunched little Matthew Smollett, wizened, acid of expression.

Gale clenched his fists and prepared for the fight he knew was coming. With a determined effort to break down their prejudice, he said earnestly, "I don't need to tell you men what a tremendous power for good or evil the ductless glands are in the body. You've all seen those pathetic specimens, victims of over-or under-activity of the pituitary, the thyroid, or some other of the endocrine glands. Gigantic, soft-boned bodies; beetling brows; thick, brutish features. Or the other extreme, roly-poly bodies of pure fat, and puerile, idiotic faces. Dolicocephalics, cretins, eunuchs—oh, the list is endless. My work for the last six years has been dedicated to the salvation of these unfortunate monsters."

"What are you trying to tell us?" put in Perrin angrily. "You don't have any wild ideas about fooling with the endocrines!"

"That's just the wild idea I do have," Gale snapped. He fought down the impatience that beat up in him. "Did it ever occur to you to wonder why we haven't been able to work safely with these glands? Simply because we go at it with strong substances like pituitrin. Why, it's like trying to repair a watch with blacksmith's tools."

"And how do you propose to do it?" Gauntt challenged.

Gale darted a look at him that was both pitying and disdainful. "With light rays," he said simply. "And I don't propose to do it; I have already done it on animals!"

Perrin's face was blank, then incredulous; and finally, perforce, cynical. "You're prepared to demonstrate?" he snapped.

Gale nodded. "If you'll have the patience to wait, I'll show you what I'm talking about."

PROFESSOR PERRIN looked startled at the abrupt acceptance of his challenge. The eyes of the group went to the mysterious, glass shielded apparatus the scientist was working with now. Gale swung the long arm that extended over the table into position above the head of it. At the end of the arm was a device something like one of the peanut butter dispensing machines seen in delicatessens. The bottom of the funnel was a lens of sapphire-quartz, and below this, inside a four-inch "pipe" of quartz glass, were stationed refractors.

Gale threw in the knife switch that controlled the apparatus. A subdued humming arose. A weird, purple glow lighted up the frosted glass sides of the machine. Across the room the huge tubes sprang into life, casting their green glow over the white walls. He commenced to adjust the refraction system suspended over the cat.

While he worked, he explained: "These complicated refractors you are probably wondering about perform the work of 'mixing' certain rays that I am employing here. The Röntgen ray and infra-red ray are the primary ones. The ray that results might be called the para-Röntgen' ray, for it is infinitely more penetrating than the Röntgen ray—or the X-ray, as it is called. The difficult part of my job has been to find a glass capable of withstanding the terrific heat produced when these rays are condensed to the concentration I must have.

"This heat is hard for me to explain without going into it deeply. A It seems as though a certain sort of 'light pressure' is created as the light passes through the refractors. Unfor...

This is only a preview of this story. The site administrator is evaluating methods to bring it to you.